The old man’s adventure on the sea is not just an event, “one-in-a-series” but something new, something challenging, something impossible. He is pitted not just against a huge marlin or greedy reckless sharks but against all the forces of nature, rather the forces of universe that try to keep man subdued. They grudge him his success and cheat him of his final victory. Nevertheless he remains unbeaten to the end; his pride is unscathed and his spirit unbent. He rightly remarks that a man may be destroyed but not defeated. His struggle against the Marlin and his fight against the sharks are as much objective as subjective. He is Odysseus, Achilles, Agamemnon and Macbeth combined. He struggles nobly against the fish and kills it successfully but reaches the truly tragic height when he fights against the Sharks. It is his “be all and end-all”. He fights like Macbeth and suffers like Lear. He has the cleverness of Odysseus and nobility and charm of Hamlet. In crucial moments, the great tragic heroes say great things and so does Santiago: “Man is not made for defeat. A man may be destroyed but not defeated.” We can say that Hemingway has given us a message that a man should live a life of struggle. He should have courage to face the circumstances. When someone wants to prove his dignity he has to fight against the heavy odds without any help and even without any resources. He is to use all the available things to defend his pride.
“The Old Man and The Sea” is not just an entertainer or a time-killer. It has something that goes deep down our psyche and arouses us out of our feckless, uneventful, lethargic day-to-day living. The old man is, infact, a sort of an “every man” who wishes to conquer the unconquerable, the Prometheus who desires to pull himself free from the prison of Fate. Hemingway has caught the true spirit of adventurism.